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Lobsters, Tomatoes, Corn and Chardonnay for Labor Day

Throw a party with this sweet, tangy recipe for the grill and 14 Chardonnays for under $20

Laurie Woolever
Posted: August 24, 2012

Every year, in early August, you start to hear people who live in temperate northern hemisphere climates mourn the passing of another summer, even though there are several weeks of the season yet to be enjoyed. Summer camp and vacations may be winding down, and school beginning soon, but it only takes a peek at the garden and the thermometer to realize that summer is still going strong. Lobsters, tomatoes and corn are all plentiful, so we've put together a recipe, below, that makes delicious use of all three.

You can make and chill the jam, and par-boil and chill the lobsters, up to 24 hours in advance, so that when guests arrive, all you've got to do is fire up the grill, slice up some watermelon and open a chilled bottle of Chardonnay, whose full body and moderate acidity make a good match for this sweet, buttery and lightly piquant dish. We've provided a list of outstanding and very good Chardonnays, recently rated by Wine Spectator's editors.

Grilled Lobsters with Tomato-Corn Jam

• 1 pound red, orange or yellow cherry tomatoes
• 1 large red, orange or yellow beefsteak or heirloom tomato (about 12 ounces), cut horizontally into 3 thick slices
• 4 tablespoons butter
• 1 ear of corn, cooked, kernels cut from the cob
• 4 live 1 3/4-pound lobsters
• 2 tablespoons salt, plus more to taste

1. Preheat the broiler. Line a broiling pan with foil and arrange the tomatoes on the pan. Arrange the oven rack so that it's about 4 inches from the heating element and broil the tomatoes, removing the cherry tomatoes to a bowl after about 8 minutes, when they've begin to split, and broiling the slices for another 5 to 7 minutes, until they're very soft, with darkening edges. Transfer all of the tomatoes to a blender or the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Divide the butter into 4 pieces and add to the food processor. Pulse until blended but still chunky. Add the corn and salt to taste and pulse for a few seconds more. If making ahead, refrigerate until about 1 hour before you're ready to serve.

2. In a pot large enough to hold the lobsters (you may have to work in batches of two), boil enough salted water to submerge them. Set up a large ice bath nearby. Humanely kill the lobsters, one at a time, by placing them perpendicular to you on a cutting board. Tuck the lobster's tail underneath its body. Quickly insert the tip of a large chef's knife at the point where the head meets the body and slice vertically through the lobster's head. Then put the lobsters in the pot and let them boil, covered, for just 2 minutes. Remove from the pot and transfer immediately to the ice bath to stop the cooking. Repeat with the remaining lobsters, if you're working in batches.

3. Preheat the grill. While the grill heats, split the lobsters in half vertically. Place a lobster facing you on a cutting board. (It's a good idea to place kitchen towels or paper towels under and around the cutting board to keep juices from running all over your work surface, and keep the cutting board firmly in place.) Place the tip of a heavy chef's knife or cleaver in the center of the lobster, near where the carapace meets the tail. Line up the knife and check to be sure the claws are not in the path of the knife. In one forceful and swift motion, split the front half of the lobster vertically. Turn the lobster around and repeat this same motion, splitting the tail. Repeat this process with the remaining lobsters. Place each lobster half on the grill, flesh side down, and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the flesh is just cooked through. Serve lobsters hot, with the tomato-corn jam alongside. Serves 4 to 8.

RECOMMENDED CHARDONNAYS

Note: The following list is a selection of outstanding and very good wines from recently rated releases. More wines can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.

CONCHO Y TORO Chardonnay Limarí Valley Marqués de Casa Concha 2010 Score: 90 | $18
A fresh, harmonious white, featuring pineapple, citrus and spice notes backed by juicy acidity and creamy texture. Well-integrated, with a lingering aftertaste of fruit and chalk. Drink now. 8,000 cases made. —N.W.

JACOB'S CREEK Chardonnay Adelaide Hills Reserve 2010 Score: 90 | $13
Polished and expressive, this white is appealing for its pear, honey and delicate spice flavors. Deftly balanced and elegant right through the finish. Drink now through 2017. 15,000 cases imported. —H.S.

BOGLE Chardonnay California 2010 Score: 89 | $10
Deceptively complex, tight and vibrant, with a slow rise of citrus-laced mineral, green pear and honeydew melon notes that build on the finish, where a touch of nutmeg adds dimension. Drink now through 2014. 300,000 cases made. —J.L.

COLUMBIA CREST Chardonnay Columbia Valley Grand Estates 2010 Score: 89 | $12
Polished, lively and refined, with pretty white peach, floral and oatmeal notes that come together smoothly and linger on the finish. Drink now through 2015. 200,000 cases made. —H.S.

WATERBROOK Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2010 Score: 89 | $12
Fresh and lively, with a creamy edge to the pear and passion fruit flavors, lingering on the deftly balanced finish. Drink now through 2015. 11,400 cases made. —H.S.

BUEHLER Chardonnay Russian River Valley 2010 Score: 88 | $16
Initially intense, yet turns delicate, with white peach, nectarine, honey, cinnamon and light oak. Very complete. Drink now. 15,000 cases made. —J.L.

GREG NORMAN ESTATES Chardonnay Eden Valley 2010 Score: 88 | $15
This fresh, inviting white is lively with pear, apple and spice flavors that dance easily through the finish. Drink now. 20,000 cases imported. —H.S.

SEBASTIANI Chardonnay Sonoma County 2010 Score: 88 | $13
Bold, ripe, assertive and complex, with tiers of fig, honeydew, spice and light toasty oak. All in all, a good quaffer with some personality and style. Drink now through 2015. 65,000 cases made. —J.L.

STERLING Chardonnay Central Coast Vintner's Collection 2009 Score: 88 | $14
Fresh and snappy, showing lively green apple, pear and floral scents, with vibrant acidity that provides a cleansing aftertaste. Drink now through 2016. 450,000 cases made. —J.L.

ALAMOS Chardonnay Mendoza 2010 Score: 87 | $13
A rich style, displaying layers of spice and smoke notes to the ripe apple, melon and light citrus flavors that turn toward the cream-tinged finish. Drink now. 22,400 cases imported. —N.W.

CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2010 Score: 87 | $13
Light, polished and creamy, with a tangy greengage plum edge to the pear and cream flavors. Drink now. 510,000 cases made. —H.S.

DE BORTOLI Chardonnay South Eastern Australia DB Family Selection 2011 Score: 87 | $9
A light, tangy white, with a floral character weaving through the pear flavors. Drink now. 20,000 cases made. —H.S.

SALVATORE PRINCIPE Chardonnay Mendoza 2011 Score: 87 | $10
Light, yet fresh and focused, displaying a lovely mix of Jonagold apple, spicy pear, flint and light oak notes that lead to hints of cream on the finish. Drink now. 10,000 cases imported. —N.W.

ROSEMOUNT Chardonnay South Eastern Australia Diamond Label 2011 Score: 87 | $10
A light and easygoing white, offering nectarine and lemon flavors that linger softly. Drink now. 28,000 cases imported. —H.S.

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